Buy fewer plug-ins, find better clients, clean up the cable box (now that's funny). I wonder what New Year's resolutions you have made, either spoken or unspoken?
Some of you may be sincere and have grand plans for a better studio career in 2019, who doesn't want to have a better year than the previous one?
According to Forbes less than 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolution, that means over 90% fail. Business Insider says 80% of New Year's resolutions fail by February, do the math it's not looking good.
However, forget those resolutions, if you want a better studio career in 2019 then looking back and reviewing 2018 is a far more useful exercise, after all the past is known, the future unknown.
A few days ago I had a call with one of the teams I work with, and the first thing we did was ask two questions;
Name one thing you are proud of from last year.
Name one thing from last year you think you could have done better.
It was a varied and lengthy discussion between five of us, in many cases we were encouraging one another not to be so hard on ourselves and making sure we all celebrated the successes. We also talked about how things could have been done better or agreed to talk about it further. The aim of these questions is not to come up with immediate answers but at least start to consider the questions that need them.
Often we shy away from evaluation, especially when it's about our performance and being creative types we tend to over-personalise criticism about our work.
However, it's often when we take time to review our past performance that we help to create a better future. One of my favourite sayings is this; "Wisdom comes from making good judgments, and we make those from having made bad ones."
A few weeks before Christmas I found myself on a call with one of my best clients going through a two-page review of 2018, much of it was what the client felt could have been done better. At that point we have two choices, we allow the insecure, emotional part of our personality to take control or we shut up, listen and ask "what can I learn and do better next time?"
If you are a songwriter or composer, then the key to a successful year in 2019 may be to evaluate the pile of songs that didn't make the grade and even those that did and ask why some worked and others did not. Resolving "I want to be a better writer" is frankly meaningless without understanding what makes the writer you are now and what needs to be improved. Self-awareness can be hard, so you may need to find some people (and I don't mean your Facebook or Twitter friends who are chosen by an algorithm to agree with you) but honest people who can help you sift through your stuff and help you be better.
If you are a sound engineer or producer, then you need to ask yourself similar questions. What work made you proud last year and what do you think could have been better?
You might need to evaluate other areas too... unnecessary spending to cover up a skill deficit, or not paying attention to your personal development. Of course, you could have worked too hard and neglected your health, family or both, it could be all the above. Stop now and think about what those things are.
My wife bought me an excellent gift for Christmas, one which I’m finding enormously helpful for my own personal development and that’s “The 6-Minute Diary | 6 Minutes a Day for more Mindfulness, Happiness and Productivity | A simple and effective Gratitude Journal and Undated Daily Planner” - in a nutshell it takes a short while each morning to plan and journal your hopes for each day and then at the end of the day a short time to reflect on how you did and your hopes for the next day. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
All too often we plough on regardless, and the silly notion of having made one more trip around the sun sets us on a poorly researched self-improvement odyssey, which is destined to fail in a matter of weeks, if not days.
If you want a better studio career in 2019, then start by looking back before looking forward.